Leftist Tyranny in Academia Is Forcing Christians and Atheists to Join Forces

With those children, he thought, that wretched woman must lead a life of terror.  Another year, two years, and they would be watching her night and day for symptoms of unorthodoxy ([1]). —George Orwell (non-Christian), 1984

Only one generation divides us from tyranny.  The fight against the new totalitarianism is the fight of our generation.  It is here. It is now.  And it cannot be avoided. —Rod Dreher (Christian)

"I don't want to hear a [expletive] thing you've got to say."  "No, you shut the [expletive] up."  "[Expletive] you, you piece of [expletive]!  Resign!" Just a tiny sampling from two years of student vitriol spewed at close range into the faces of administrators and faculty members.  It all played out at Evergreen College in Olympia, Washington as Lord of the Flies–like anarchy repeatedly engulfed the campus (view the disturbing documentary here).

Shut Up, Listen, Comply, or Go Away

Evergreen's Equity Council designated May 17, 2017 the Day of Absence for White People — only "people of color" were welcome on campus that day. Staunchly opposed to racial segregation, Professor Brett Weinstein, in protest, refused to absent his white self.  Student-rioters rose up to hound and harass him.  Menacing mobs ranted and rampaged in attempts to remake their school in the image of an ascendant radical ideology and to destroy a dissenting professor's livelihood.  The result?  Weinstein is no longer employed at Evergreen, but the enforcers of the Day of Absence are, and the Equity Council chugs happily along.

The radical ideology at work is Critical Race Theory ([2]). With Marxist roots and institutional backing, CRT flourishes on most university campuses in North America.  It divides the world between oppressors (white heterosexual males) and everybody else.  Oppressed groups include women, "people of color," and myriad sexual identity groups (LBGTQIA+) communities.  Adherents are "woke," and they play for keeps.

Resistance to the modern left often evokes a reflexive pushback — "shut up, listen, comply, or go away."  Professor Weinstein found this out the hard way.

The evangelical founder of Sovereign Nations, Michael O'Fallon, and the atheist co-founders of New Discourses, Drs. Peter Boghossian and James Lindsay, found each other through their shared horror at what transpired at Evergreen.  Lindsay and Boghossian are featured by the Southern Baptist Founders Ministries in their own efforts to expose and resist CRT and the woke influence that has penetrated the Southern Baptist Convention.  Other Southern Baptists have come together in the same cause in the recently formed Conservative Baptist Network.

1776, a non-partisan black-led response to the New York Times' "1619 Project," marks the most recent high-profile repudiation of the left's efforts to rewrite history through the lens of a woke imagination.  Signatories represent the full range of religious and political affiliation and lack thereof — from Carol Swain, a Christian, former Democrat turned Republican, all the way to atheist, Democrat-voting Coleman Hughes.  Refusal to bend the knee to the left leaves these signers forever labeled as Uncle Toms and Aunt Tammys.  Swain, a Southern Baptist and former professor hounded out of Vanderbilt University by the vicious left, recently lamented the infiltration of Marxist Critical Race Theory into the Southern Baptist Convention.

Alarmed at the tyrannical suppression of speech CRT enforces in higher education, Christian, Jewish, and atheist academics, including Jordan Peterson and Heather Mac Donald, are set to launch Ralston College in Savannah, Georgia.  "We are determined to avoid the suffocating influence that political correctness, speech codes, and other coercive policies continue to have on most campuses."  "Students who seek to have their views and feelings unquestionably affirmed will not find Ralston congenial and should not apply."

Power Redistribution

Christianity commands precisely no platform and zero positive curricular presence at Evergreen.  But the spirit of Marxist black liberation theologian James Cone, a favorite of assistant professor Walter Strickland at Southeastern Baptist Seminary, thrives there.  Cone articulated one goal of the social justice warrior boldly, unapologetically: "If you're not talking about redistribution of power, you're just joking around."

Jimmy, a white student at The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, inspired by his black professor, Curtis Woods, expressed his desire that they plant a multi-ethnic church together.  Woods responded, "Have you ever sat under African-American leadership?"  "No," Jimmy admitted.  "So why should black folk follow you as the leader?"  Critical Race Theory requires a Marxist power redistribution from oppressor groups to oppressed groups.  Get it, Jimmy?  In any church-plant with Woods, he, being black, shall be the boss of you, being white.

Yet Woods praises his white boss, Provost Matthew Hall — "I love Dr. Hall because he's well-versed in Critical Race Theory and history."  So Woods follows the leadership of a white man, contradicting his admonition to Jimmy?  And Hall, though well versed in CRT, seems content to retain his supervisory position over Woods.  What gives?

Voices Trump Faces

The full title of Shelby Steele's seminal book of 2009 offers clues to the hypocrisy at work: White Guilt: How Blacks and Whites Together Destroyed the Promise of the Civil Rights Era.  With devastating clarity, Steele uncovers the duplicitous dynamics in play.  Elite whites seek to publicly dissociate from racism with the aid of blacks happy to benefit as the platformed absolution-dispensers the whites crave — "I call this white guilt not because it is a guilt of conscience but because people stigmatized with moral crimes ... [of] racism lack moral authority and so act guiltily together whether they feel guilty or not."  Compliant white elites are rewarded with retention of their power.  Cooperative blacks win jobs and the platforming of their approved woke black voices.

According to CRT, one's black face privileges one's black voice.  Skin color secures a privileged hearing.  But that's not how things work out.  Listen to Jarvis Williams, black colleague of Woods at Southern Seminary: "[w]hen certain predominantly white churches talk about multi-ethnic churches, I think what many mean is that they want black and brown faces but not black and brown voices. ... They don't want the assertive and confident black and brown body, who will say what he thinks when racism arises in the congregation. ... [T]hey don't want W.E.B. Dubois, they want Booker T."

See how it works?  Booker T.'s un-woke viewpoint renders his voice unwelcome.  Black or not, Booker T. Washington is persona non grata where CRT flourishes.  Meanwhile, Hall's "well-versed in CRT" voice overcomes his white face, secures his position of power, and privileges his white woke voice over Booker T.'s un-woke black voice!

Ideology Trumps Skin Color

In practice, ideology, not skin color, is the real membership card, where CRT and woke credentialing are concerned.  As Squad member Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-Mass.) put it so succinctly, "we don't need black faces that don't want to be a black voice."

Voddie Baucham is an L.A. native, former Texas pastor, now dean of theology at African Christian University in Zambia.  And he sports about as confident and assertive a black body and voice as one could hope to encounter.  Baucham was once a fixture among the platformed voices within the elite evangelical community.  But after his un-woke views emerged in public, the welcome mat disappeared.  Scoot over a tad if you would please, Booker T.  Kindly make room for Voddie B.

The message of the white platform-controlling elites to Baucham and of the mob at Evergreen to Professor Weinstein and of the tyrannical left wherever it gains control is the same: "shut-up, listen, comply, or go away."

Not to Worry?

But why associate ostensibly conservative Baptist seminaries with the events at Evergreen?  Because the tyrannical left is ambitious and growing, and white elites tend to cave to their demands.  In congressional testimony, Professor Weinstein notes, "What I had not counted on was [the student rioters'] alliance with Evergreen's new president who ... partnered with the mob."  On the day students took administration and faculty hostage, lead rioter Jamil responded "hold it" to President Bridges's ever so cautious plea, "I need to pee."  Weeks later, Bridges provided assurances to the now formally ensconced student watchdog council's concerns regarding potentially resistant un-woke faculty.  We "bring 'em in, train 'em, and if it doesn't take, we sanction 'em."

Award-winning documentarian Mike Nayna asked Weinstein, "How has it gotten to this point?"  His response sounds a warning to complacent and Pollyannaish observers: "[i]n part it has gotten to this point because we let it fester.  These ideas were wrong when they first took hold in the academy.  And instead of shutting them down we created phony fields that act as a kind of analytical affirmative action that do not deserve to survive but are given sustenance.  These ideas are so toxic and so ill-conceived that, to the extent that they are allowed to hold sway ... [they] actually jeopardize the ability of civilization to function."

Mark DeVine teaches at the Beeson Divinity School in Birmingham, Alabama and is the author of Bonhoeffer Speaks Today and Shalom Yesterday, Today, and Forever.

[1] George Orwell, 1984 (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1949), p. 24.

[2] For a favorable treatment see, Critical Race Theory, Richard Delgado and Jean Stefancic (New York University Press: New York, New York, 2017).  For critical appraisals, see Gerald McDermott at https://www.patheos.com/blogs/northamptonseminar/ and Neil Shenvi at https://shenviapologetics.com/intro-to-critical-theory/.

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